Few places can capture a sense of place and time quite like The Wren’s Nest, the former home of famed Atlanta author Joel Chandler Harris. Located in Atlanta’s West End neighborhood, the nonprofit house museum pays tribute to the author of the globally recognized Uncle Remus tales (starring Brer Rabbit), which preserved African-American folklore and left a definitive mark on American literature.
Harris wrote in the African-American dialect and ultimately published 185 Uncle Remus folk tales, which were widely consumed by adults and children during his lifetime. A contemporary of Mark Twain, Harris was a well-loved public figure, whose writing influenced numerous Southern literary greats, including Twain.
A renowned associate editor, journalist and humorist for the Atlanta Constitution, Harris also published several short story collections and novels, and he was even honored by President Theodore Roosevelt for his vast contributions to society and to literature.
Joel Chandler Harris' former home, "The Wren's Nest" — Photo courtesy of The Wren's Nest
Harris’s house, which he lived in between 1881 through 1908, was made into a house museum in 1913, thanks to the support of President Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie and students from Atlanta Public Schools. It recently celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2013.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the gorgeous Queen Anne Victorian abode is filled with furnishings from its former famed residents; it also retains its original paint colors. Aimed at preserving the writer’s legacy and serving the Atlanta community as an educational resource, it’s definitely a portal to the past, a place where you can explore extensively during a guided walking tour of the home.
Hear the stories behind odd trinkets, arresting taxidermy and framed photographs as you make your way through the author’s quarters - where you’ll gain insight into Harris’s personality and his day-to-day life. The people that work at the museum are passionate about Harris’s legacy, so listen up and ask them questions!
An absolute must-see are the house’s award-winning storytellers, The Wren’s Nest Ramblers, who recite lively renditions of Harris’s Uncle Remus tales every Saturday at 1 p.m. While the events are attended largely by children, you’ll notice that the parents are just as engaged by the performances as the kids.
Read the museum's blog to keep tabs on what’s going on at The Wren’s Nest and with the Ramblers, so you can plan your visit accordingly. If your love for literature runs deep, inquire about volunteering with the museum’s Scribes mentorship program, which pairs professional writers with students at KIPP STRIVE Academy and Brown Middle School to write and publish a book.
The Wren’s Nest is open 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Walk-in tours are $5 for kids, $7 for seniors and students and $8 for adults. Group tours on Saturdays, which include storytelling at 1 p.m., are $6 for kids, $8 for seniors and students and $9 for adults.